heark·​en ˈhär-kən How to pronounce hearken (audio)
variants or harken
hearkened or harkened; hearkening ˈhärk-niŋ How to pronounce hearken (audio)
or harkening

intransitive verb

: listen
hearkened without much mental commentTheodore Dreiser
: to give respectful attention
the humble folk who hearkened to these evangelistsG. M. Stephenson
: to bring to mind something in the past : hearken back
Portrayals of dinosaurs with lizard-like tongues hearken to early interpretations of the beasts as oversized lizards.Mindy Weisberger

transitive verb

archaic : to give heed to : hear

Examples of hearken in a Sentence

hearken! I hear the distant beat of the hooves of many horses
Recent Examples on the Web In 680, Hussein had hearkened to the call of Muslims in the garrison town of Kufa, a few miles east of Najaf. Aatish Taseer, New York Times, 9 Nov. 2023 The Baroque-like painting hearkens to a time where animals were sacrificed for clothing and accessories. Olivia Deng, BostonGlobe.com, 1 Sep. 2023 The arrangements feature musicians as well as several producers like Solo Otto and Jay Versace and hearken to Robert Glasper’s jazz/neo-soul fusions. Mosi Reeves, Rolling Stone, 23 May 2023 The Morgans’ comedy hearkens to an earlier era of domestic fodder. Karen Heller, Washington Post, 10 May 2023 To be able to unite the cruise piece with wellness writing in a single essay promised a glory and quantity of free stuff that would hearken to the heyday of print magazines, back when things mattered. Lauren Oyler, Harper’s Magazine , 10 Apr. 2023 And this one’s hearkening a bygone era when life was analog. The Astrotwins, ELLE, 1 Apr. 2023 Trot, a genre of Korean pop music, hearkens to the Japanese colonial era and has a Sinatra-like crooner sound. Los Angeles Times, 6 Mar. 2023 The wood of the train cars was stained a beautiful blue, the same color that can be seen even today on certain bricks at Auschwitz; both hearken to cyanide’s origins as a byproduct isolated in 1782 from the first modern synthetic pigment, Prussian blue. Benjamín Labatut, Harper's Magazine, 28 Sep. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hearken.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English herknen, from Old English heorcnian; akin to Old High German hōrechen to listen, Old English hīeran to hear

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hearken was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near hearken

Cite this Entry

“Hearken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hearken. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


hearkened; hearkening

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